January 24, 2020

Perdue Farms Eliminates Routine Antibiotic Use in Chicken Production

Jacob Bunge reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Perdue Farms Inc. eliminated all antibiotics from its chicken supply, the company’s chairman said, in a move he said makes the Maryland company the first major poultry supplier to do so.”

(Note that recent updates have highlighted issues associated with antibiotics and livestock production (Sept. 20; Oct. 6)).

Mr. Bunge explained that, “Perdue’s move completes 14 years of efforts to replace antibiotics with vaccines and re-engineered chicken barns, and could help the company ramp up production of organic chicken, a market that is growing far faster than that for conventional poultry.

“‘It completes the journey,’ Perdue Chairman Jim Perdue said in an interview Thursday at the WSJ Global Food Forum in New York (See video below).”

Perdue Farms Inc. is the first major poultry supplier to remove all antibiotics from its chicken supply, the company’s chairman Jim Perdue said Thursday. He also spoke about the growing demand for organic chicken and how Perdue’s business model is adjusting, in a conversation at the WSJ Global Food Forum.

The Journal article added that, “Growing pressure from consumer groups has prompted big restaurant chains, including McDonald’s Corp. and Subway, to unveil plans in recent years to reduce the use of antibiotics in their chicken supplies, following earlier efforts by companies such as Panera Bread Co. and Chick-fil-A Inc.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late 2013 called on animal drugmakers to stop permitting the use of antibiotics to speed up animal growth, and companies have agreed to comply by 2017,” the article said.

Mr. Bunge also pointed out that, “By the end of September 2017, Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. meat company by sales, aims to stop using on its chicken farms antibiotics that also are used to treat humans. The company also is expanding its business in pork and beef raised without antibiotics, said Tom Hayes, Tyson’s president.

“Mr. Hayes said the shift, which was driven by consumer demand, has helped Tyson better understand the flexibility of its production system to respond to changing tastes. ‘We have learned a lot about our supply chain, and it’s good,’ he said.”

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